What is Core Strength?

Core. Such a trending word in the fitness industry, although often thrown around the gym incorrectly. No, it’s not your six-pack, though your rectus abdominus DOES make up part of it.

So what is it? Basically it’s all the muscles throughout your body that aren’t located in your arms and legs. So basically, that involves your glutes, hips, inner and outer abdominal muscles, scapula and pelvic floor. The main function of these muscles is to stabilize your trunk through all functional movement.

The core, as mentioned above, is the group of muscles on the front and back of your body, acting like a corset surrounding and supporting your spine, but the main ones are:

  • Transverse Abdominal’s: These are the deepest of your abdominal muscles lying under the obliques (think “side abs”) and rectus abdominus (think outer abs, superior abs, or “six-pack”). It connects from the lumbar (lower region) spine and wraps right around your middle to meet your rectus abdominal’s in the front of the body. By learning how to engage this muscle, you will be able to strengthen your WHOLE core – and yes, develop that washboard stomach we are all obsessed with.
  • Multifidis – Switching to the back of the body now, we find the multifidis. This muscle lies on either side of the spine, and connects to each individual vertebrae (the bones in the spine). Not only does it support our posture by helping us sit/stand up right, but it aids with our back bends by extending the spine.
  • Diaphragm – If you’re into pilates, a singer or just into pranayam; the diaphragm will be a well known muscle to you already. Actively tightening as the transverse abdominus contracts, it maintains pressure in the abdomen and provides stability to the spine. The dome shaped diaphragm is the primary muscle used for breathing, and and provides the top of the cylinder core.
  • Pelvic Floor – Ladies should know this one already, and if you don’t – research it now! Sitting at the lower end of the transverse abdominals, it acts like a “sling” from the tailbone (bottom tip of the spine) to the front of the pelvis. It contracts simultaneously with the transverse abdominals to form the bottom cyclinder of this muscle group. Additionally, it is side that keeping these muscles strong will not only help with bladder and bowel weakness, after effects of pregnancy and vaginal prolapse. Once you’ve done your research, you’ll understand why it’s so important to strengthen these muscles!

Muscles of the core

Now that we’ve learned what it is, I can tell you the exercises you need to actually strengthen it. So before you head to gym for another round of crunches; keep reading!

Because most people make the mistake of thinking the core muscles are only located in the abdominal region, they will ineffectively train numerous crunches and sit ups to hopefully define that six pack. Wrong. This is not only training only the superficial (outer abdominals), but it can also wreck havoc on your spine.

So today, I’ve scoured the interwebs for the top exercises to activate, strengthen and tone your core for optimum results:

  • Dead Bugs
  • Tummy Vacuums
  • Bird Dog
  • Clam Shells
  • Band Anti-Rotation

Easy to follow on the link below from Timothy Bell of Jungle Fitness:

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little info session, and enjoy that new found stability from the inside out. Remember that almost ALL exercises you will perform at the gym, or even in your daily life will engage the core muscles, so it’s great to work on strengthening them. Not only will it give you better form posture, and technique, but it will help keep your bladder and bowel in check for latter in life!


Monique Elouise

Credits: http://www.breakingmuscle.com, http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/rehabilitation-exercises/core-strengthening-stability/introduction-to-core-stability, http://xploration360.weebly.com/uploads/3/8/2/6/38268483/9854510_orig.png, http://www.timothybellfitness.com/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=13&v=m6Ww8re14Uk